The concept of individual responsibility

Unit 1 Post 3

A very interesting concept presented in “Recognizing Racism in the Era of Neoliberalism” by Angela Y. Davis is the notion of “individual responsibility” and how it is perceived under the lens of Neoliberalism. According to the author, the prevalence of capitalism in the U.S. society results in the privatization of goods that are public by their nature. “Health care, education and social security” are only some of the goods and services not provided by the state, despite that the less fortunate and impoverished of its citizens cannot attain them themselves. And as a result of their inability to do so, they are characterized as “lazy” or even “useless” by the entirety of the society, which of course is extremely harmful to their mental health and sense of self-esteem. Moreover, Davis touches upon the correctional facilities, where there is a shocking overrepresentation of marginalized population. Also, a significant number of people belonging to these populations face deprivation, losing their ability to influence their own future.

According to Neoliberalism, these occurrences are solemnly the result of private upbringing and personal sense of morality. Criminal behavior is not the responsibility of the state, but of the individual. However, this theory does not give credit to the life condition of individuals and society’s structure as the deciding factor leading to criminal behavior. In other words, Neoliberalism does not recognize the structural form of racism, which often leads people to engage in criminal activity, and holds responsible personal immorality and individual responsibility, something deemed illogical by the author.

If I had a panel, the authors I would invite to engage in discussion with Angela Y. Davis are John Locke and Karl Marx, and the questions I would put forth would be the following:

  1. Are individuals able to reason and therefore unanimously agree on moral standards?
  2. Why do individuals engage in criminal activity? Is it because of their individual way of thinking or as a result of the society they are a part of?
  3. Since problems including injustice, marginalization of certain populations and conflicts between different social groups are evident in every society, is there a way to solve them and ensure harmonic coexistence?